CHRIS COHEN (USA)
29th March, 2019
“The simultaneous complimentary and oppositional tendencies at work on ‘Song They Play’, the opening track from singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Chris Cohen’s brilliant new self titled album, immediately sets the tone for what’s to come. The compositional transition between tension and relief is simply remarkable for its seeming effortlessness. Those tendencies appear in a myriad of diffuse ways across the entire record whether represented by the understated and relaxed nature of Cohen’s vocals up against the insistent twists and turns taken by rhythm and melody or the gorgeously lithe guitars up against the all engulfing sound of the bass and other instruments representative of the each track’s low end.
The singles, the dual speed and soft retro rock of ‘Sweet William’, the sunny jangle pop of ‘Green Eyes’ and the unlikely uplift of cathartic closer ‘No Time To Say Goodbye’ highlight this to a tee as does the delicate yet substantive ‘What Can I Do? This is all the more impressive when you consider that he played every instrument on the record with the exception of Kasey Knudsen’s exhilarating saxophone contributions. Cohen is also not averse to eschewing pop and rock for other forms, witness the jazz feel of ‘The Link’ or centrepiece ‘House Carpenter’, a cover of a traditional Scottish folk track .
However, this musically dissentient veneer through which is channeled lyrically a hefty dose of oblique but heartfelt melancholy keeps proceedings on an even keel, and is almost representative of the balance between the shock of and recovery from familial trauma, the subject of the record. Chris Cohen’s third album continues build upon his previous two and keeps him firmly in the spotlight as an independent pop and rock artist of beguiling calibre. But more importantly, it also again proves him to be a canny storyteller, on this occasion able to represent the personal and confessional depths in an accessible but also in as complex and non-straightforward a way as life’s traumas themselves play out.” James Stocker, Indie30.